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Rhodes to Symi Day Trip – A Greek Island Escape

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Experience the Best of the Aegean: Rhodes to Symi Day Trip Highlights

Rhodes, the largest of the Dodecanese islands, is famed for its rich historical tapestry and vibrant cultural scenes and serves as a gateway to exploring the lesser-known gems of the Aegean Sea. One such treasure is Symi Island, a mere stone’s throw away. The proximity of Symi to Rhodes makes it an ideal destination for travelers looking to embark on a day trip that promises a blend of scenic beauty, serene beaches, and quaint architecture.

Accessible primarily by ferry, Symi is approximately 41 kilometers northwest of Rhodes. Frequent daily ferries are available between the two islands, including high-speed options that can transport passengers in as little as 65 minutes. This close distance allows for the leisurely exploration of Symi’s charming harbor, its stepped streets lined with neoclassical buildings, and its quiet coves, all within a day’s travel from the bustling island of Rhodes.

Symi Island, a short ferry ride from Rhodes, offers a tranquil and picturesque getaway, perfect for a day trip. Renowned for its scenic harbor, lined with brightly colored neoclassical buildings, and its crystal-clear waters, Symi provides a serene contrast to the busier Rhodes. This small island captivates visitors with its rich architectural heritage, secluded beaches accessible only by boat, and local cuisine featuring the famed Symi shrimp. Ideal for those seeking a quieter, more reflective day out, Symi offers a glimpse into the laid-back lifestyle and natural beauty of the Greek islands, making it a must-visit destination for anyone in the region.

Symi 2024

Planning Your Trip from Rhodes

Best Time of Year to Visit Symi from Rhodes

Like most Greek islands, Symi has a Mediterranean climate characterized by hot and sunny summers and mild and wet winters. However, choosing the best time to visit can significantly enhance your day trip experience.

  1. Peak Season (June to August):

The peak tourist season in Symi occurs during the summer months. The weather is typically sunny and hot, often climbing above 30°C (86°F). While this is the busiest time, it is also when the island is most vibrant, with all shops, restaurants, and attractions open and operating at total capacity. The sea temperatures are ideal for swimming, making it a perfect time for beach lovers.

  1. Shoulder Seasons (May, September, and October):

May, September, and October are ideal for those seeking a balance between good weather and fewer crowds. The temperatures are more comfortable, ranging from 20°C to 25°C (68°F to 77°F), and the island retains its lively atmosphere with fewer tourists. These months are particularly appealing for those interested in outdoor activities like hiking and exploring the island’s natural landscapes.

  1. Off-Season (November to April):

Visiting during the off-season can be rewarding for those looking to experience a quieter side of Symi. Although some tourist facilities may be closed, and the weather can be more relaxed and unpredictable, the island’s beauty remains. It’s a great time for budget travelers and those who want a more comfortable experience with lower prices and fewer crowds.

Weather Considerations:

Given Symi’s proximity to Rhodes, the weather conditions are similar, though Symi can be slightly cooler due to its smaller size and sea breezes. When planning your trip, consider the activities you want to enjoy. Mid- to late summer is ideal for beach activities and swimming. The shoulder months are perfect for walking, sightseeing, and experiencing local life without the intensity of the high season.

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Ferry and Boat Options from Rhodes to Symi

Traveling from Rhodes to Symi is convenient, with various ferry and boat services catering to different preferences and schedules. Here’s an overview of the available options:

  1. Standard Ferries:

There are reliable and scenic regular ferry services operating between Rhodes and Symi. These ferries offer a leisurely ride, taking about 1.5 to 2 hours, and allow passengers to experience the stunning Aegean seascape at a relaxed pace. These vessels typically have amenities like snack bars and comfortable seating, making the journey pleasant.

  1. High-Speed Ferries:

The high-speed ferry options are ideal for those looking to maximize their time on Symi. The King Saron catamaran operated by is popular, boasting a swift journey of just 65 minutes to Symi. This service is perfect for day-trippers as it reduces travel time significantly, allowing more time to explore the island. High-speed ferries have modern amenities, ensuring a comfortable and efficient trip.

  1. Private Boat Charters and Tours:

For a more personalized experience, visitors can opt for private boat charters or organized group tours. These services often include specific itineraries, such as stops at notable beaches and landmarks around Symi. While more costly, they provide a tailored experience with activities like snorkeling, dining, and guided tours.

Ticketing and Scheduling:

Tickets for standard and high-speed ferries can be purchased online or at the port. During the peak season, booking tickets early is advisable as services can fill up quickly. Schedules vary by season, with more frequent departures during the summer months. It is advisable to check the latest timetable and weather conditions before setting out, as services may be adjusted due to sea conditions.

Tip: Numerous smaller boats lack amenities such as toilets or running water, requiring passengers to remain seated throughout the journey. Additionally, some vessels that make swimming stops can pose safety risks due to overcrowding and may need proper licensing. In contrast, SeaDreams’ fleet is fully certified, holding the International Safety Management (I.S.M.) certificate and all other necessary operational licenses, ensuring a safer and more comfortable experience.

King Saron Rhodes Panormitis

Arrival in Symi

First Impressions of the Harbor and Landscape

As the ferry approaches Symi, the first thing that captures the eye is the stunning vista of Symi Harbor, known as Yialos. This picturesque harbor is framed by an amphitheater of neo-classical buildings painted in a kaleidoscope of soft pastel hues, climbing steeply up the hillsides. The breathtaking visual effect presents a beautifully preserved snapshot of a bygone era that reflects Symi’s rich history and maritime heritage.

Symi Harbor (Yialos):

Upon disembarking, visitors are greeted by Yialos’s vibrant activity. The harbor is bustling with cafes, shops, and locals going about their day, which gives it a lively, welcoming atmosphere. The charm of the old world is palpable, with cobbled streets winding their way through the town and boats bobbing gently in the clear blue waters.

Architectural Delight:

The buildings around the harbor are a testament to the island’s prosperous past during the 19th century when Symi was a center of sponge diving and shipbuilding. These structures boast elaborate facades and intricate details, many restored to their original splendor. The architecture here is a feast for the eyes and an open-air museum depicting the influences of different cultures over the centuries.

Natural Surroundings:

Beyond the harbor’s immediate charm, Symi’s landscape unfolds in layers of dramatic hills and secluded valleys. The natural scenery is marked by rugged cliffs, small bays, and inlets, many accessible only by boat. The contrast between the serene beaches and the rugged terrain offers a unique backdrop that enhances the tranquil feel of the island.

Welcoming Atmosphere:

From the moment of arrival, the warmth of Symi’s residents is evident. The locals are known for their hospitality, often greeting visitors with smiles and offering insights into the island’s best places to visit, eat, and relax.

Rhodes to Symi Day Trip harbor

Discovering Symi Harbor: Main Attractions

Symi Harbor, or Yialos, is not only the entry point to the island but also a hub of cultural and historical attractions. Here are some of the key highlights that visitors can explore right at the harbor:


  1. The Clock Tower:

A notable landmark in the harbor area is the Clock Tower, which is easily recognizable and centrally located. Built in the early 20th century, it is a helpful meeting point and a charming piece of the town’s architecture, offering a glimpse into the island’s past under Italian administration.


  1. Shops and Local Markets:

The harbor area has various shops and market stalls where local artisans sell their crafts. Visitors can browse through handmade jewelry, traditional Greek products, and the famous Symi sponges. These shops are perfect for picking up souvenirs and gifts unique to the island.


Discover the area’s maritime history and sponge-diving heritage. The air is fragrant with the aroma of local herbs and spices, notably oregano and thyme, while sage here is reminiscent of mountain tea. At the neighborhood bakery, indulge in the traditional cheese pies known as “Tourtes” in Symi alongside an assortment of cookies.


  1. Cafes and Tavernas:

Numerous cafes and tavernas dot the waterfront, where visitors can sit back and enjoy the local cuisine while overlooking the sea. These establishments offer a range of dishes, from freshly caught seafood to traditional Greek mezze, all accompanied by stunning views of the harbor and its vibrant activity.


  1. Architectural Walks:

Visitors can take a leisurely walk around the harbor and admire the colorful neoclassical buildings that make Symi so photogenic. Many of these buildings have been lovingly restored, and their detailed facades and carved wooden doors tell stories of a bygone era. This architectural tour is an easy and rewarding way to explore the area’s history on foot.

Take particular note of the metal balconies and the abundant windows in the houses; it’s not uncommon for a single room to boast over six windows!


  1. Yialos Church:

Overlooking the harbor is the Yialos Church, known for its beautiful bell tower and traditional Greek Orthodox architecture. The church is often open to visitors and provides a peaceful retreat and a chance to see religious art and icons significant to the local community.

Symi Day Trip

Things to Do in Symi

Exploring Symi Town

Symi Town, with its dual parts—Yialos, the harbor area, and Chorio, the upper town—is a mosaic of history, culture, and stunning vistas. Here’s how visitors can make the most of their time exploring this captivating town:


  1. Stroll Around the Harbor and Yialos:

Start your exploration right in the heart of Symi by taking a leisurely walk around Yialos. The harbor, with its vibrant array of classical mansions and small boats floating on crystal-clear waters, offers a picturesque setting straight out of a postcard. The seafront has cafes and restaurants, providing ample opportunities to relax and soak in the serene atmosphere.


  1. Shop for Local Sponges and Crafts:

Symi is famous for its natural sponges, which are a legacy of its historical sponge diving industry. Along the streets of Yialos, numerous shops offer these sponges alongside other local crafts like handmade jewelry, ceramics, and textiles. Shopping here provides a chance to pick unique souvenirs, supports the local artisans, and keeps the traditional crafts alive.


  1. Enjoy Panoramic Views from Tourist Train Rides:

You can hop on the tourist train for a comprehensive view of Symi Town without walking. This ride takes you from the harbor to Niborio Beach while you listen to traditional Greek music. The train winds through narrow streets and climbs up to higher vantage points, where you can capture panoramic views of the harbor below and the surrounding hills. It’s a perfect option for families or anyone who prefers a less strenuous way to see the town.


  1. Visit Local Landmarks:

Visit significant landmarks like the Historical Museum of Symi, located in the old town of Chorio. It houses exhibits that tell the story of Symi’s past through artifacts, photographs, and documents. Another notable site is the Church of the Panagia Mirtidiotissa, which offers insight into the island’s religious heritage.


  1. Culinary Exploration:

After a day of exploring, sample some local cuisine at one of the many tavernas and restaurants that dot the harbor. Symi is known for its seafood, particularly the tiny Symi shrimp, often fried and served with a splash of lemon.


  1. Sunset at the Castle:

End your day with a visit to the remains of the Knights’ Castle at the top of Chorio. Although the trek might be challenging, the sunset views from here are breathtaking and provide a perfect end to your exploration of Symi Town.


  1. The Kali Strata stairs:

As the sun dips below the horizon, go down from Chorio to Gialos via Kali Stratas. This pathway, consisting of 500 stone steps, historically served as Symi’s main commercial artery and was once the sole link between two key areas: the Village, perched high on the hill, and Yialos, the bustling port. As you descend, you’ll pass vibrant bougainvilleas in full bloom, enjoy stunning views of the harbor, encounter the ruins of neoclassical homes destroyed during World War II, and capture photos of the grand mansions that still stand. These remaining structures are enduring symbols of the island’s late 19th-century prosperity, driven by thriving shipping, shipbuilding, and sponge fishing industries.

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Culinary Delights in Symi: Savoring Local Flavors

Symi is a haven for food lovers, with its traditional Greek cuisine that includes fresh seafood and unique local specialties. Here’s what to indulge in and where to go for the best dining experiences:

Local Dishes to Try:

  1. Symi Shrimp: This delicacy is a must-try. These tiny shrimps are pan-fried whole and served with a squeeze of fresh lemon. Their unique sweet flavor and crisp texture make them a favorite among locals and visitors.
  2. Grilled Octopus: Often served as a meze, the octopus in Symi is marinated and then grilled to perfection, making it tender and flavorful. It pairs wonderfully with ouzo or local white wine.
  3. Moussaka: While commonly found throughout Greece, Symi’s version of this layered eggplant and minced meat dish, topped with béchamel sauce, is particularly savory and worth a taste.
  4. Dolmadakia: These are grape leaves stuffed with rice and herbs, sometimes with added pine nuts or currants, offering a delightful vegetarian option.
  5. Local Cheeses: Try the Kalathaki Limnou, a local cheese similar to feta but softer and creamier. It is ideal for salads or enjoyed simply with olive oil and bread.
  6. Roast goat with potatoes or pilaf. With local fresh meat, a traditional dish of Symi.

Historical and Cultural Sites in Symi: A Journey Through Time

Symi boasts a rich tapestry of history and culture, reflected in its well-preserved landmarks and traditional settlements. Here’s how visitors can immerse themselves in the island’s heritage:


  1. Church of Evangelismos:

Located in the heart of Symi Harbor, the Church of Evangelismos is an architectural marvel with its striking facade and intricate interiors. This church is a centerpiece of religious life on the island and stands out with its elegant bell tower and detailed iconography inside. The church is a place of worship and a testament to the Greek Orthodox tradition’s enduring influence on the island. Its serene ambiance invites visitors to reflect and admire the beautifully preserved religious artworks and carvings.


  1. The Knights’ Castle:

Perched atop the highest point in Symi, the remains of the Knights’ Castle offer a historical adventure and panoramic views of the island and the sea. Initially built by the Knights of Saint John in the 14th century, the castle was a defensive stronghold against invasions. Although mostly in ruins, the site provides a glimpse into Symi’s past strategic importance. The climb to the castle is a bit strenuous but rewards visitors with breathtaking sunsets and a birds-eye view of the entire town.


  1. Exploration of Chorio:

Just above Yialos lies Chorio, the old village of Symi, which can be reached by ascending the ancient Kali Strata—a grand staircase made of stone. This climb comprises about 500 steps, flanked by old mansions and houses that echo the island’s past wealth and cultural blossoming. Walking through Chorio is like stepping back in time, with its narrow, winding streets, hidden courtyards, and traditional houses adorned with bougainvillea. The village hosts several small chapels and museums, including the Symi Folklore Museum, which houses collections of traditional costumes, tools, and artifacts that illustrate the daily life of Symi’s ancestors.


  1. War Memorial and Roloi:

At the heart of Chorio, the War Memorial, dedicated to the Symiots who died during World War II, stands as a poignant reminder of the island’s modern history. Nearby, the Roloi, a historical clock tower, marks the passage of time and remains a focal point in the village square.


  1. Monastery of Archangel Michael Panormitis:

Although a bit further from the main town, this monastery is one of the most important religious sites in the Dodecanese. Located on the island’s southern end, it is renowned for its Byzantine architecture, sacred icons, and the miraculous icon of the Archangel Michael. It is a place of pilgrimage and offers insights into the region’s spiritual heritage.


Swimming and Relaxation in Symi: Idyllic Beach Escapes

Symi’s coastline has numerous inviting beaches, each offering a unique setting for relaxation and swimming. From secluded coves to vibrant pebbled shores, the beaches of Symi are perfect for those looking to unwind and enjoy the pristine waters of the Aegean Sea.


  1. St George Bay:

St George Bay is one of Symi’s most enchanting spots, famed for its crystal-clear waters and dramatic cliffs that frame the bay. Accessible mainly by boat, this secluded bay offers a tranquil escape from the busier main areas. The beach here is a mixture of pebbles and sand, ideal for sunbathing or simply soaking in the serene environment. The water is exceptionally clear, making it a superb spot for snorkeling where swimmers can explore the rich marine life and underwater beauty.


  1. Nos Beach:

Located a short walk from the harbor, Nos Beach is convenient for those near Yialos. This beach features a well-organized area with sunbeds and umbrellas available for rent, and its proximity to the town makes it a popular choice for families. The beach is partly sandy and pebbled, with calm waters ideal for swimming.


  1. Nanou Beach:

Accessible only by boat or a challenging hike, Nanou Beach is worth the effort for its stunning natural scenery. This quiet, pebbled beach is surrounded by steep hills and lush greenery, offering a secluded setting. It’s perfect for those looking to escape the crowds and enjoy a peaceful day by the sea. The beach also has a small tavern that serves refreshments and local dishes.


  1. Pedi Beach:

Pedi Beach is another charming option, located in a sheltered bay. The beach is lined with trees providing natural shade and has basic amenities like sunbeds and umbrellas. The water here is calm and shallow, making it safe for children and less confident swimmers. Pedi is also a great starting point for walking trails that lead to more secluded beaches and coves.


  1. Marathounda Beach:

For those seeking a more rustic and natural environment, Marathounda Beach offers a quiet retreat. This small pebbled beach is nestled at the end of a winding road and is surrounded by rugged terrain. The beach has a few amenities, including a quaint taverna known for its fresh seafood and traditional Greek snacks. Its remote location ensures a peaceful atmosphere, ideal for those looking to relax completely.


  1. Agia Marina beach:

Agia Marina Beach, situated at Symi’s northeastern tip, nestles in a cove guarded by a tiny rocky islet featuring a quaint church. This sandy stretch is known for its shimmering turquoise waters and is well-equipped with umbrellas, sunbeds, and a nearby tavern. Visitors can access Agia Marina by water taxi or boat or by embarking on a scenic 40-minute hike from Pedi. It’s advisable to avoid the trail during the midday heat. Agia Marina is also renowned for being particularly child-friendly, making it a safe spot for family outings.


  1. Nimborio or Emborios beach

Nimborio, or Emborios, is an emerging tourist destination on Symi. It is the island’s second harbor and boasts a charming village and a splendid beach. “Yiala offers a spacious pebble shoreline, reachable by a brief 15-20-minute walk from the main port of Symi. A notable attraction is the “Twelve Caves” in Mesa Niborio, a group of twelve Byzantine domes that historically functioned as workshops for painters and sculptors.


Tips for Beachgoers:

  • Some beaches require a boat ride or a hike, so bring water, snacks, and proper footwear.
  • Bring snorkeling gear to fully appreciate the underwater beauty.
  • Take note of local tavernas for a delightful lunch break.
Symi Agia Marina beach
Symi Agia Marina beach

Practical Tips for Visiting Symi

Navigating the island, knowing what to pack, and understanding the local currency and payment methods are crucial for a smooth and enjoyable visit to Symi. Here are some tips to help you plan your trip:


  1. Navigating the Island:
  • Walking: Symi is a relatively small island, perfect for foot exploration. However, the terrain can be steep in parts, especially around the harbor and the old town. Comfortable walking shoes are a must.
  • Buses: Local buses connect Yialos with Chorio and Pedi Bay, which can be handy for reaching different parts of the island without a strenuous hike.
  • Taxis and Water Taxis: Taxis are available and convenient for direct travel to specific destinations. Water taxis are also famous for visiting beaches and other coastal attractions that are inaccessible by road.
  • Rentals: Renting a scooter or a small car is an option for those looking to explore at their own pace. However, the roads can be narrow and winding.


  1. What to Pack for the Day Trip:
  • Sun Protection: Sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses are essential, as the Greek sun can be pretty intense, especially in the summer months.
  • Water and Snacks: Always carry a water bottle and some snacks to stay hydrated, mainly if you visit remote areas or beaches.
  • Swimwear and Towel: Pack swimwear and a quick-dry towel for beach visits and spontaneous dips in the sea.
  • Comfortable Footwear: The island’s terrain can be uneven, so sturdy walking shoes or sandals suitable for hiking are advisable.
  • Camera or Smartphone: Symi’s scenic beauty is genuinely photogenic, so ensure you have something to capture the memories.
  • Light Backpack: A light backpack is handy for carrying all your essentials while exploring the island.


  1. Currency and Payment Options:
  • Currency: The currency in Symi, as in Greece, is the Euro (EUR). It is wise to have cash, especially for smaller purchases like water, snacks, or souvenirs from local vendors.
  • ATMs and Cards: There are ATMs in Symi Town where you can withdraw cash. Most established businesses, such as restaurants and larger shops, accept credit cards, but it’s always a good idea to ask beforehand, particularly in more remote areas or smaller establishments.


  1. Additional Tips:
  • Language: Most people in tourist areas speak English, but learning a few basic Greek phrases can enhance your interaction with locals.
  • Etiquette: When visiting churches or religious sites, dress modestly and respect local customs.

Conclusion: Embracing the Charm of Symi

Our journey through Symi has showcased the best of what this enchanting island has to offer. From the stunning vistas at St. George Bay and the rich tapestry of history in the streets of Chorio to the delightful flavors of local cuisine and the serenity of its secluded beaches, Symi provides a unique blend of relaxation, culture, and adventure. This idyllic destination is perfect for those seeking a day trip from Rhodes that combines the beauty of untouched nature with the charm of Greek island life.

Explore Beyond Symi:

You can extend your adventure beyond Symi by taking a day trip from Rhodes to Marmaris, Turkey, with This excursion offers a chance to explore the vibrant city of Marmaris, known for its beautiful marina, historic Old Town, and bustling bazaars, perfect for shopping and savoring traditional Turkish cuisine. Book your trip through SeaDreams and experience the unique blend of natural beauty and lively culture that Marmaris offers.

Ready to embark on your adventure to Symi? Visit SeaDreams to book your boat trip from Rhodes. Choose the rapid King Saron catamaran for a swift 65-minute journey, or enjoy a scenic trip with Symi II, starting from just 35€. Don’t miss the chance to discover the timeless allure of Symi and make memories that will last a lifetime. Plan your trip today and experience the beauty of the Greek islands firsthand!



What is the best time of year to visit Symi?

  • The best time to visit Symi is during May, September, or October when there are fewer crowds and pleasant weather. However, if you enjoy a vibrant atmosphere, the summer months of June to August are also great, albeit more crowded.

How long does it take to travel from Rhodes to Symi?

  • You can travel from Rhodes to Symi in 65 minutes via the King Saron high-speed catamaran available through SeaDreams.

What are some must-try local dishes in Symi?

  • When in Symi, try the local Symi shrimp, grilled octopus, and moussaka. These dishes reflect the island’s culinary traditions and are relished by locals and tourists.

What are the top attractions in Symi?

  • Symi’s top attractions include the picturesque Yialos Harbor, the Church of Evangelismos, and the scenic views from the Kali Strata walk.

What should I pack for a day trip to Symi?

  • For a day trip to Symi, pack sun protection, comfortable footwear, a hat, a camera, swimwear, a towel, and a light backpack for snacks and water.

Are there ATMs available on Symi?

  • Yes, there are ATMs in Symi Town where you can withdraw cash. However, carrying some money is a good idea as smaller vendors may not accept cards.

Can I visit another country during my stay in Rhodes?

  • You can visit Turkey by taking a day trip from Rhodes to Marmaris. This trip offers a unique opportunity to experience another culture and explore the beautiful town of Marmaris.

How can I book a boat trip to Symi or Marmaris from Rhodes?

  • You can book your boat trip to Symi or Marmaris from Rhodes through the SeaDreams website at They offer options like the King Saron catamaran and other ferries to suit various needs and schedules.
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